The government is emphasizing that its drive to reform the court process for more efficient evictions is not a ploy to delay the commitment to abolish Section 21. Jacob Young, a junior minister at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, provided clarification to a committee of MPs overseeing the Renters Reform Bill, highlighting that the legislation constitutes the “most significant reforms of the private rented sector in 30 years.”
Young stressed the critical nature of getting these reforms right, underscoring the government’s dedication to overhauling the private rented sector. This reassurance comes in response to concerns about potential delays or diversions from the commitment to scrap Section 21, a contentious issue in the ongoing discussions surrounding rental sector reforms.
While emphasizing a commitment to promptly abolishing Section 21, the official underscores the necessity of preparing the system. Addressing MPs, he states, “Court rules and systems require updating to align with the new law, an unavoidable step. Additionally, we are fully committed to a digital system for enhanced efficiency in the court process, aligning with modern standards. Rest assured, significant efforts are underway before the legislative process concludes.”
Providing insights into the progress, the official mentions the initiation of the possession process digitization project’s design phase, backed by over £1 million in funding. This investment lays the foundation for developing and implementing a new digital service, signaling a strategic move towards a more streamlined and contemporary court process.
Efforts are being made to alleviate concerns about bailiff delays, with plans to implement automated payments for debtors. This measure aims to reduce the necessity for doorstep visits, allowing bailiffs to prioritize possession enforcement. Collaborative initiatives with the Ministry of Justice and His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service include an exploration of improvements to bailiff recruitment and retention policies, emphasizing a comprehensive approach to address existing challenges.
The official highlights the fiscal responsibility in avoiding unnecessary expenditure on building a new system without legislative certainty. Emphasizing the need for prudent use of taxpayers’ money, they commit to providing additional details and implementation dates in due course, ensuring transparency and accountability in the ongoing efforts to enhance the legal framework and enforcement processes.
Concluding the discussion, he asserted that the approach was not a delaying tactic. Citing the concerns raised by the 2.4 million landlords across urban and rural areas, along with their representatives and business stakeholders, he emphasized the need to address the reported court delays. The phased implementation approach, outlined in the White Paper from the previous year, aims to provide the sector sufficient time to adapt, with a commitment to notifying implementation dates in advance.
Highlighting the significant representation from organizations representing the country’s 2.4 million landlords, the official stressed the importance of considering their concerns about court processes. Introducing a new system without addressing these concerns would be deemed unwise, given the extensive reach of the rental sector affecting all 11 million renters in the country. The detailed scrutiny of the Bill line by line remains an ongoing process.